Osteosarcoma is a rare form of bone cancer that is usually treated with a combination of treatments, that can include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Although treatment is effective for some patients, it is associated with significant side effects, and long-term survival is lower in those patients whose disease has spread throughout the body or for those whose tumours did not respond to chemotherapy. Therefore, we need more effective, better tolerated treatments for this osteosarcoma.
How will this project tackle this challenge?
Cancer cells grow in an uncontrolled manner, dividing and growing without fully duplicating their genetic material. This leaves them vulnerable to damage, in a way that normal cells are not.
Under Prof D’Angiolella’s supervision, a PhD student will aim to exploit osteosarcoma cells’ vulnerable state. They will treat paediatric osteosarcoma cells with drugs that are designed to make the cells’ DNA. Hopefully, this should kill the osteosarcoma cells.
The project will first focus on drugs that are already in clinical trials in other disease settings as any findings could potentially translate rapidly into clinical trials. In parallel they aim to identify new drug targets for this disease using gene-editing technology.
What this means for people affected by sarcoma
Many research projects, like this one, look at exploiting the biology of sarcoma cells to create new ways of treating it. This research will explore a new treatment avenue for osteosarcoma in the lab, which if successful, may lead to a new treatment for patients.
There is a need to develop more effective, better tolerated treatments for osteosarcoma, which predominantly affects children and adolescents.